This play is yet another world premiere from the lovely people at Write Act Rep.
If there is one thing you can rely on from them, it’s human stories set in extraordinary circumstances. This acutely human story is about two of the most iconic men who have ever lived, Winston Churchill and Edward Murrow. Few have been as influential or as controversial in their own time or have had that influence live on so long into the present. What fascinated me immediately with the story of these men was that they had such a close relationship, particularly given the stress and the drama of the times they lived through and their hugely important and personally convoluted roles in each other’s lives, not to mention the parts they played in World War II.
The play explores Churchill and Murrow’s unique bond quite deeply and, to be honest, I had very little prior knowledge of what they meant to each other. The play gives the audience a really interesting and quite emotional insight into a relationship that really had a profound effect on the both of them, not to mention a lot to do with the US finally committing to the Allied forces and the ultimate defeat of the Axis of evil.
Churchill relied on Murrow to communicate to the American people and ultimately to Roosevelt, through his weekly radio show in London. While in London, Murrow began an affair with Churchill’s daughter-in-law, which ended badly, and which Churchill opposed of course, mostly because he feared for Murrow’s heart rather than his daughter-in-law's, whom he loathed.
So, the play follows their friendship, from their first meeting, through the war years and Churchill’s struggles with the British government, his health, and the almost constant opposition to his strategy from the generals and the allies. Churchill was fearless, and this particular attribute is beautifully developed in this play. Murrow was far more of a romantic and these two opposite characters and strangely intimate friends make for a gorgeous story. I must say it strikes me as a lot to take on as an actor. To play Winston Churchill takes nerve and Michael Karm seems to use the stubborn edge of Churchill to build a really fabulous performance and give us a Churchill full of flaws, passion and heartache. Murrow is tough too, he is a man so loved in this country and so respected, to show his moral struggle with his adulterous love affair, his loyalty to Winston and his country is tricky. But Tyler Cook takes him on with a kind of bashful obstinacy and keeps him real. It’s in the writing really. These two disparate men from different worlds who touch each other’s lives so deeply and literally change the world together. But the story is not about that, it’s about them. Each scene revolves around their friendship, more than the war or an unfortunate affair, which we experience of course, but even that ultimately has far more to do with how they feel about each other I think.
All this is cleverly sprinkled with fabulous British wartime music, the songs of Vera Lynn and the like, which I adored…being English. The set is impeccable and lovingly put together. The combined effect, with actors and wardrobe, and the beautiful and heartfelt words is like time traveling. We are collectively transported to a time in world history where literally everything was on the line, where the stakes were as high as they could be and where two men forged an unlikely and life-changing friendship.
I highly recommend “Their Finest Hour: Churchill and Murrow.” In these times of uncertainty and disrespect in both politics and journalism, spending a little time with two brave and moral souls is much needed and almost medicinal…I certainly felt a lot better for it.
Beautifully written, expertly acted and superbly directed…Bravo!!
Limited engagement through August 5. Saturdays at 8 PM and Sundays at 2 PM
Written by Willard Manus
Directed by Stu Berg
Michael Karm, Tyler Cook, Chantelle Albers, Beau Hogan, and Brian Fortuna